The Networked Self

My engagement in online networks started very late during high school, when I was seventeen I joined a game modding forum for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. There I helped with the development of a mod sub-project, but what caught my attention quickly is the social structure of a niche forum. I quickly became a moderator, and then a few months after an administrator. Both of these positions detached me from the ongoing projects development within the community, and brought me closer to the drama and social hierarchies that unfolded and were nurtured in this open and anonymous environment. I attempted to start a number of my own communities since then, but it has always been an uphill struggle with the advent of popularized social networks as it was tough to attract users to new and un-established bulletin boards.

I deemed my experience in the area of managing these communities as quite worthless and went back to try and pursue my passion for games. After joining a small volunteer indie startup I quickly realized that even in this semi professional environment the same patterns in drama and natural hierarchies were prevalent and my experience with this once again lifted me out of the game development process and placed me in roles more in the areas to human resources, public relations and community management. After four promising attempts that ended in quite failures I detached myself from the indie scene and realized that somehow during my time there I managed to develop a passion and a set of skills for the web. I started freelancing as a web developer and community manager to a number of small indie startups and begun interacting with communities directly on social networks rather than on privately controlled message boards and intranets.

During this time I also started my perhaps most successful community yet, a website designed for people who wanted to learn digital painting. I combined tools from an existing social network, with my newly founded idea of what ‘brick and mortar’ has started to mean (a self hosted website) and formed Lightwyrm. Which lasted for two years, and cultivated a small but active community of tutorial writers and tutorial consumers. But in the end, I ran into the most difficult obstacle yet, inability to inspire more content creators and community leaders in order to help grow Lightwyrm into a self sustaining entity.

After that I became engrossed in school, in freelancing and my full time positions. But I still tried to maintain a social presence on twitter, my social network of choice, and within the two niche communities that I participated in.

Currently I am interested in the complex networks formed by gamers, rather than game creators. EVE Online is my lens of choice at the moment. I find the player societies and structures of that universe to be incredibly fascinating. It is one of the only online games that manages to cultivate self created mythologies and complex player stereotypes that are not based around their ‘real world’ attributes but rather their locations and preferences within the game. This is facilitated by the range of gameplay possibilities that establishes divisions of players that have not tried, in any way, the content of anything outside of their respective areas of play. The players end up interpreting real scenarios or fabricating untrue events from other areas in ways that glorify, vilify or belittle the players involved.

With that said my interest in Twitter has waned, and open social networks in general became stressful rather than helpful. I am interested in new and better ways to communicate over them, rather than use them as tools for PR and community management.